Friday, October 23, 2015

A treat for astronomers: Largest collage map of Milky Way now online

Via The Watchers, 22 October 2015

A team of astronomers from Germany have compiled the largest astronomical image of the Milky Way galaxy so far, the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) announced on October 21, 2015.

​Small region of Milky Way showing the Eta Carinae star. Image credit: Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB

Scientists have monitored our Galaxy for five years, searching for objects with variable brightness, such as stars in front of which a planet is crossing or systems of stars that orbit and obscur each other. For this purpose the team has been observing the southern night sky on a nightly basis using the telescope at Bochum's University Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile. So far, over 50 000 bright variable objects have been detected during the project.

The large collage of Milky Way is made up of 268 individual images, as the area observed has been so big it had to be divided into smaller regions. The final picture contains 46 billion pixels and is 194 GB in size.

Milky Way section showing the M8 nebula. Image credit: Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB​

This is an exciting achievement, as any curios person can now view the complete ribbon of our Galaxy using the online tool, and even zoom further in to observe the chosen region in more details. For example, you can use this tool to look for specific celestial object by typing in its name.

  • If you feel curious about the vast space of our celestial home, you can view and explore the Galaxy image online.

Featured image: Small region of Milky Way showing the Eta Carinae star. Image credit: Lehrstuhl für Astrophysik, RUB​

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